Maral Matig in front of her work, “Bloodlines”

Creative Action Coalition Issues Global Call for Armenian Artists

87
0

By Alysse Stepanian

“Language, Symbolism, and Unsettling Acts of De-Erasure” is the title of a new global-scale, year-long arts initiative by the Creative Action Coalition (CAC) artist group. Phase I of this project, “Ayb-Ben Այբ-Բեն” is addressed to the Armenian artists around the world. Other manifestations that may happen simultaneously, will include artists from other Indigenous communities.

Over a year ago, CAC was launched in response to the destruction of Armenian heritage and the violence that Armenians continue to face since the 2020 invasion of Artsakh. Realizing that the Armenian predicament is not unique, CAC has expanded its mission to include non-Armenian indigenous communities, those who have been struggling with social invisibility, and cultures whose identities have suffered the consequences of imperialism, invasions, settler societies, and colonization. Our goal is to help build international solidarities for global resistance to systemic oppressions through art.

“Armenia, situated in the crossroads of East and West, has survived centuries of invasions and massacres. Yet an uncanny absence of Armenian ancient cultural heritage permeates world art history textbooks, which serves the devaluation, destruction, recontextualization, appropriation, and negative stereotyping of Armenian culture.” The mainstream arts communities must understand that Armenian heritage is part of world heritage.

Dreams are shaped by language, the essence of every culture. Recently, I completed “Ayb-Ben Այբ-Բեն”, a surreal video art piece in which a defiant woman loudly and vigorously recites the Armenian alphabet in an insistent pulse. Intermingled are cultural symbols, symbolic flowers, and letters from the Persian and English alphabets denoting her diasporic identity. The recognition of the interconnectedness of oppressions and the necessity of solidarities is symbolized by the fusion of Armenian forget-me-not flowers and Palestinian poppies. The process and research that led to this work has inspired me to reach out to other artists to manifest a new global project. I am calling on Armenian artists to join me to present our culture to the world and help put an end to the destruction of Armenian cultural heritage by making it part of mainstream consciousness.

This initiative will have multiple iterations, enriched by individual voices and collective concerns that defy cultural erasure throughout centuries of colonization, tragedies, and violence.

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

Possible manifestations of this project include one or more of the following:

  • pop-ups and impromptu performances, street actions, and performative exhibitions that incorporate recitations of the Armenian alphabet and live or recorded music
  • ritualistic performances symbolizing de-erasure of cultural heritage
  • videos and other work highlighting Armenian ancient symbols, mythical animals, fruits and flowers such as grapes, pomegranates, apricots and forget-me-nots
  • informational brochures and educational workshops regarding Armenian heritage and interconnected struggles of Indigenous Peoples

Participating artists and project leaders for regional actions will be chosen from the responses to this call. Artists will be encouraged to propose their own ideas. Each regional iteration of “Ayb-Ben Այբ-Բեն” will have its own secondary title.

Armenians and other Indigenous Peoples have suffered from the tragic erasure of identity. While we hope to harness the power of collective action, the identity of each artist and the creative voice and input of the individual will be respected and acknowledged. All participating artists will be promoted to the press and will be given visibility on our website and in any other documentation.

Phase I of this initiative is open to Armenian artists from all disciplines, of all genders and sexual identities and orientations, over the age of 18. Prior performance experience is not required.

At the 2015 memorial lectures for the Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, the renowned American scholar and civil rights activist, Angela Davis stated, “Ongoing efforts to create a popular intellectual environment within which to explore the contemporary impact of the Armenian genocide are central, I think, to global resistance to racism, genocide, and settler colonialism.”

Follow Creative Action Coalition on Instagram (@creativeactioncoalition) to help build the international solidarity needed to put an end to the continued Armenian Genocide by bringing the plight of Armenians to the center of popular intellectual discourses.

To support our project, send a note to: https://creativeactioncoalition.com/contact/

To participate in this project, send the following information using the link above. In the subject box write: “Ayb-Ben: Your full name.” Respond to the questions in the message box.

Please check the website for updates. The following dates are subject to change: May 31, 2024: proposal deadline and June 14, 2024: notification of selected artists and project leaders

(Alysse Stepanian is a cross-media artist, independent curator, and Creative Action Coalition’s Organizer. Find out more about her at https://alyssestepanian.com. To find out more about the project, visit https://creativeactioncoalition.com)

 

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: